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Basic Kitchen Layout Shapes

What’s determines your kitchen layout? You’ve heard of the phrase “form follows function”. This is true when it comes to the layout of a kitchen. There are, however, some basic kitchen layout shapes i.e. Straight, Galley, L, U, and G that are based on the work triangle.

The work triangle is formed by tracing an invisible line between the sink, range, and refrigerator. No leg of the triangle is shorter than 4 feet nor longer than 9 feet. With the total of all legs not being greater than 26 feet.

No obstructions in the triangle.

STRAIGHT | ONE WALL

The one wall kitchen layout is the smallest of all kitchen design layouts. There really is not work triangle as such for obvious reasons. This kitchen layout is ideal for smaller homes or as a secondary kitchen in a larger homes. This type of kitchen plan is best suited for an efficiency style of apartment and is often incorporated into loft style or open floor plans.

Because its small stature the one-wall kitchen design often lends itself to the use of combination appliances. Hood/microwave works well here as does a range for cooking rather than a cooktop and separate oven. Try not to crowd appliances too closely together. Leaving ample space for cabinetry between appliances will make the kitchen much more functional.

Pros:

  • The single wall design totally eliminates outside traffic flow in this kitchen.
  • This is the perfect choice for an open floor plan or basic kitchen layout.
  • Likely to be the lease expensive kitchen to remodel.

Cons:

  • The lack of a traditional work triangle in the one-wall kitchen design makes it a less efficient kitchen layout.
  • Lack of size can lead to limited storage space.
  • Storage can be very limited in a smaller kitchen such as this.

GALLEY | CORRIDOR

The galley or corridor style kitchen design layout gets its name from the galley of a ship. This kitchen is also referred to as a corridor kitchen layout or plan. With this kitchen plan all cabinets and appliances are in a straight line on opposite walls. This can be one of the most highly efficient kitchens to cook in due to its small size. Everything the cook needs is not far from hand and a lot of the back and forth movement by the cook can be eliminated here.

The main draw back to this kitchen layout is that it is designed as a pass through kitchen. This invites traffic into the kitchen and as a result things can get crowded. Shoot for a minimum of 4 feet between countertops to allow ample room.

Try to keep guests from passing through if possible. If carefully thought out this kitchen can offer ample cabinet storage and adequate counter space. Space saving appliances such as smaller refrigerators and under cabinet appliances are ideal in this kitchen design.

Pros:

  • Due to the smaller work area and basic kitchen layout this is one of the more efficient kitchens to use.
  • Easy to keep clean and clutter free.
  • The limited space means remodeling this kitchen should be less expensive.

Cons:

  • Traffic can be a concern if the galley kitchen is open on both ends.
  • Cooks are typically not engaged with the rest of the guests and can feel a bit isolated in a galley kitchen.
  • Typically not designed for eat in use. If planned properly a snack bar can be added.

L-SHAPED

Perhaps the most common kitchen shape is the L-Shape kitchen plan. In this kitchen layout the problem of pass through traffic is eliminated. The possibility of corner storage also comes into play with the wall and base cabinetry at the inside of the L shape. It is important to take advantage of this space and use it wisely. Blank or dead corners should be avoided here.

Take care not to make each leg of the L too long to avoid unnecessary amounts of travel while working in the kitchen. A maximum leg length of 12 to 15 feet is ideal. If you have a large enough room to work with you can explore the idea of adding an island to this kitchen plan.

Pros:

  • Excellent choice for a typical medium sized kitchen.
  • If laid out properly this is an extremely efficient kitchen to cook in.
  • If space permits an island or peninsula can add additional storage and function.

Cons:

  • Household traffic can interfere with work triangle.
  • Reduce traffic by placing the refrigerator at the end of one leg of the L shape.
  • Microwave/hood combo is most efficient use of space but not great for maximum ventilation.

U-SHAPED

The U shape kitchen is a close cousin to the L shape but offers more storage and counter space. In the U shape, however, you will have two inside corner situations to address. Lazy susan cabinets, blind corner cabinets and magic corner cabinets are all possibilities here.

This kitchen layout is suitable for larger kitchens and can be enhanced by adding a kitchen island. Should you decide to use an island try to have no less than 42″ of clear walking space around the island.

The addition of an island will likely break up the flow of a traditional work triangle so you may wish to consider the idea of incorporating another work zone to add functionality to this plan.

Pros:

  • Good for larger kitchen plans. Lots of counter space and storage.
  • Ideal for adding an island to your kitchen layout.
  • Traffic through the work triangle is eliminated.

Cons:

  • Unless there is a dedicated work station at the island his is usually a single cook kitchen.
  • Try to have a minimum of 12 feet along the back wall of the U to avoid a crowded feeling in the kitchen.
  • Keep appliances a minimum of 3 feet from the corners.

G-SHAPED

The G shape kitchen is really a modified version of the U shape. Many times the G shape is completed by adding a peninsula area to create the G shape. The addition of a peninsula is an excellent way to make your kitchen more inviting especially if it incorporates seating for guests.

The downside to the G shape kitchen plan is that it does limit access to the main kitchen area so care must be taken so the kitchen doesn’t feel cramped. Make certain there is plenty of room between the leg of the G and cabinetry on the opposite wall. Try to keep an entry access distance of no less than 48″ here.

Pros:

  • Can offer more storage and counter space than small kitchens.
  • Can offer seating space for a few guests.
  • Ideal way to limit access to the busy work triangle area of the kitchen.

Cons:

  • Can make the kitchen feel closed in or smaller than it actually is.
  • Care must be taken to leave adequate ingress and egress to main kitchen work center.

This is just a sampling of the many configurations that are available. No two kitchens are exactly alike.

The kitchen layout will be uniquely YOURS.

As you plan your kitchen, keep in mind how you’ll use the space now and in the future and remember the special needs of every member of your family. With thoughtful planning, you’re well on your way to a perfect custom kitchen.

Architectural Interiors is a Kitchen and Bath design firm specializing in the design-supply-install of cabinetry. Owner and Chief designer Marvin W. Towler has more than 25 yrs experience in residential design. Architectural Interiors is well known for custom kitchens and cabinetry and customer satisfaction in all areas of custom kitchen design and installation. Architectural Interiors is an exclusive resource for the design and purchase of custom cabinetry by housing developers, builders, architects, interior designers and homeowners. Specializing in the design of custom cabinetry for kitchens, baths, libraries, closets and more.